The Carpet Beetle probably gets its common name from its being a common pest of carpets. It has also been known as the Buffalo Beetle from being a serious pest of buffalo robes in the 1870s.
The Carpet Beetle is nearly worldwide in distribution, but in the United States it is found more commonly in the northern states. The Carpet Beetle has been known to cause dermatitis in humans.
Adult Carpet Beetles are about 1/16” to 1/8” long and oval in shape, their body is black with a pattern of whitish and orange/red scales. Larvae are up to 1/4” long, reddish/brown color and covered with blackish/brown hairs.
The Carpet Beetle will typically cause extensive surface damage along with occasional, irregular holes. However, in carpets tacked to the floor, they will often eat slits following the floor cracks. On furs and brushes they will eat the tips of the hairs, leaving damaged and uneven areas.
The female Carpet Beetles lay 30-60 whitish eggs during May and June. The eggs hatch in 10-20 days and the larvae will feed for two to three months as they develop. Developmental time from egg to adult usually requires 3-4 months at room temperature, but can take up to 2 years at cooler temperatures. Upon emerging, the adult beetle stays dormant for about 18 days, and then becomes active for about 4-31 days.
Outdoors or in unheated structures, about 25% of Carpet Beetles overwinter as larvae which feed again the following spring. Some Carpet Beetles will pupate that same summer, but the majority (about 75%) will pass a second winter as a dormant adult. In heated structures, adults may be active throughout the winter and the following spring.
Carpet Beetle larvae feed on a wide variety of animal and plant materials. Animal-origin materials include woolens, hair, bristles, horn, feathers, silk, furs, and insect collections. Plant-origin materials include pressed plants, dried flowers, rye flour, and wheat. The favored foods of Carpet Beetles are carpets, clothing and textiles.
Adult Carpet Beetles are typically found outdoors May through July, feeding on the pollen and nectar of flowers. The females may then fly indoors to lay their eggs. Outdoors, Carpet Beetles can be found in nests of chipmunks, birds, bees, and on dead animals.
The key to controlling Carpet Beetles is to find the primary sources of infestation and eliminate them. Besides the obvious carpeting, clothing, furs and plant materials, it may be necessary to check the more unusual places, especially if there have been any past occurrences of rodents, birds or bees nests inside walls.
In addition, it is often necessary to have targeted areas treated by a trained and licensed pest control operator. Because of the natural occurrence of Carpet Beetles outdoors, it is sometimes necessary for annual preventative treatments.